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Easy Cuban Picadillo

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Easy Cuban Picadillo is a traditional Cuban recipe for Picadillo made in a skillet or the Instant Pot with ground beef, typically served over rice.

Cuban Picadillo over rice in a bowl with a fork on a napkin.

Cuban Picadillo Recipe 

Cuban beef Picadillo has a wonderful combination of flavors – sweet, savory, salty, and sour, each one distinct.

The ingredient list is a bit unusual, so I was initially hesitant.

Except my good friend Ksenija Zeltkalns, said she had been making this dish since 1993 when she found the recipe in a little Pillsbury cookbook. 

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I took her word for it, and I’ve never looked back. This recipe is a seriously delicious pan of wonderful.

We make this picadillo on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot.

Both instructions are below in the recipe card.

Ingredients for Easy Picadillo

  • Ground Beef – Opt for lean ground beef, if possible. 
  • Onion, green bell pepper, garlic. If you don’t have an onion or garlic cloves, you may substitute granulated or dehydrated onion flakes and granulated garlic.
  • Canned whole tomatoes – I substitute diced tomatoes or even sliced stewed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes. 
  • Golden raisins
  • Green olives with brine
  • BBQ Sauce – A sweet and smokey BBQ is our favorite.
  • Capers
  • Rice: We love Basmati or Jasmine rice for serving.

How to make Cuban picadillo on the stovetop

Crumble the ground beef in a large, hot skillet over medium-high heat.

Be sure to drain any accumulated fats when you’re cooking the ground beef.

If you don’t do this step, you can end up with a greasy Picadillo, and that’s not at all what you desire.

Then add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, browning the ground beef until it is cooked and the veggies softened.

And don’t drain the tomatoes – you will need the juice to keep the Picadillo nice and saucy for serving over the bed of rice.

Drain any excess fats from the skillet, then stir in the remaining ingredients, not including the cooked rice.

Don’t drain the tomatoes – you will need the juice to keep the Picadillo nice and saucy for serving over the bed of rice.

Simmer the Picadillo over low heat for 30-35 minutes to let the flavors combine.

Serve over hot rice. We love basmati or jasmine rice best.

Delish!!!

Cuban Picadillo recipe made with olives and raisins over a bed of rice.

What is Cuban Picadillo

Cuban Picadillo is a ground beef dish with a Cuban heritage that includes a variety of ingredients, including tomatoes, raisins, and olives and is served over rice.

No one really knows where it originated, but it is rooted in Latin culture.

What to serve with Cuban Picadillo

We normally serve basmati or jasmine rice with our Cuban Picadillo.

Occasionally, we have enjoyed it with mashed potatoes or noodles.

We have also used the Picadillo filling combined with a bit of rice to make stuffed green peppers that we bake in the oven. 

I prefer to cut my bell peppers in half lengthwise instead of setting them up vertically with the top removed.

Then, I fill each half with the Picadillo and rice filling.

It seems they bake faster this way, and also, they are much easier to eat!

Once, I had just enough Picadillo to make a quesadilla with it – talk about yummy.

What if I want to leave out the green olives? 

So I was leary of this ingredient in this dish at first, too, especially when thinking about combining the piquant olives with the sweet golden raisins. 

Somehow, that just didn’t compute!

Again, I just forged ahead with this recipe, determined to give it a chance just as it was written with every ingredient included. 

Please don’t skip the olives!

Just leave them whole when you add them, and if you give this dish a taste and decide they aren’t for you, you can push them to the side. 

I think you’re going to be surprised!

Can I use plain, long-grain white rice in this recipe instead of Basmati or Jasmine rice?

Yes, the only reason I typically use Jasmine rice all the time now is because I just love the texture!

It seemed that no matter how I cooked my regular long-grain white rice, it came out mushy.

It just didn’t have the mouthfeel I wanted.

Leftover Picadillo

Picadillo is even better the next day!

All the flavors have time to meld, and it just gets more and more flavorful.  We love having it for leftovers.

Can I make my Picadillo even more saucy?

Double up on the tomatoes (with juice) and add more BBQ sauce, plus a bit more brine from the olive jar.

Once you made these additions, do a taste test to see if you need to adjust. 

We like our Picadillo really saucy, too!

More Favorite Main Dish Recipes to Enjoy

Easy Cuban Picadillo

Classic Cuban Picadillo is a traditional Cuban recipe for Picadillo made in a skillet with ground beef, typically served over white rice.
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 797kcal
Author: Chef Alli

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained, chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup green olives + 2 Tbs. olive brine
  • 1/3-1/2 cup BBQ sauce, depending on how saucy you prefer
  • 2-3 Tbs. capers, drained
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice, I prefer Jasmine rice or Basmati rice, rinsed before cooking

Instructions

Picadillo Made on the Stove Top

  • In a large, hot skillet over medium high heat, crumble the ground beef, then add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, browning the ground beef until it is cooked throughout and the veggies have softened
  • drain any excess fats from the skillet, then stir in the remaining ingredients, not including the cooked rice.
  • Simmer the Picadillo over low heat for 30-35 minutes, to let the flavors combine.
  • Serve over hot rice.

Picadillo Made in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker)

  • Using the sauté setting on the Instant Pot, let the pot preheat a bit, then add the ground beef, crumbling it; drain any excess fats from the pot.
  • add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, browning the beef until it is cooked throughout and the veggies are softened;
  • Stir in remaining ingredients, not including the rice.
  • Lock the Instant Pot lid into place, choosing the high pressure setting for 3 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.
  • When the timer sounds, use a natural release for 5 minutes, then a quick release to remove remaining pressure from the Instant Pot.
  • Carefully unlock and remove the Instant Pot lid, giving the Picadillo a gentle stir.
  • Serve at once over bowls of warm rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 797kcal | Carbohydrates: 139g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 865mg | Potassium: 972mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 321IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 5mg

Picadillo Over Rice is a traditional Cuban dish made with ground beef that's typically eaten over white rice. A Latin comfort-food, this home-style skillet meal is simple and quick to make, with some referring to it as "hash". I personally refer to it as CRACK....I cannot stop eating it, and I can't wait for you to try it.  #Picadillo #Cuban #FamilyStyle #SkilletMeal #GroundBeef #Hash #LatinFood

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2 Comments

  1. True Cuban picadillo recipe will never, ever include BBQ sauce. It is not a Cuban ingredient. The rest of the recipe is “on point” except dry wine is also used. It is traditionally served over long grain rice. Left overs make great empanadas!! Thank you

    1. Hi Coppy –
      Thank you for this clarification – I’m not that familiar with Cuban cuisine at all and I appreciate you letting me know. I’ll definitely be trying the empanadas with my leftovers, too!
      Sincerely,
      Chef Alli

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